Scope and arrangement
The diary (July 1, 1846-August 7, 1848) which is written in ink in a legible hand describes in generous detail Duncan's life in Ireland at Belfast and Newtownards (County Down), especially the 'state of his mind', his religious torments and anxieties, his church activities and social life. His experiences during the sea voyage from Belfast to New York, his sojourn in New York City, his voyage by steamer up the Hudson River to Troy (N. Y.), and onwards to Rochester via the Erie Canal, then to Niagara Falls, Toronto and Brantford (Canada) are also recorded in interesting detail. At each stage of his journey Duncan records his impressions of the places visited and his experiences in seeking employment. At the back of the diary are 9 pages of copies of outgoing correspondence sent by Duncan to his father and friends in Ireland. Some 8 loose items (notes & memoranda) are inserted in the flyleaf of the volume.